Solar Photovoltaic Vocational Program (Full Time - Under Industrial Careers)

Erwin Technical Center, Tampa, Florida

This program was initiated by an instructor at Erwin Technical Center who felt the need for a solar program.  His past experience in working with solar system designing and permitting and the upsurge in solar activity in the area led to a desire to create a permanent solar training program at Erwin Tech.  This is an example of one individual having a goal of establishing a solar program and in the end succeeding.  Enrollment since its inception has been steady and interestingly, many military veterans have participated in the program.

Program Description

This program provides students with the technical knowledge and skills needed to adapt a solar photovoltaic design; conduct a site assessment; read blueprints; and install, maintain, and troubleshoot a solar photovoltaic system. Students will learn basic electricity concepts in DC and AC electrical circuits, voltage, and electric codes, as well as practice hands-on basic residential wiring. Solar installation site assessments and design skills will be developed through hand sketches, use of IT Technology and Computer Aided Drafting software.

Program Attributes

  • TABE Test Scores: 10th Grade Reading & Math / 9th Grade Language required of enrolling students.
  • During the program, most students earn OSHA safety certification. Upon completion of the program, students will be encouraged to take the North American Board of Certified Practioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic (PV) Entry Level certification exam.
  • Examples of a technical program’s Books and Supplies Listing for this type of course


o   ACTIVITY FEE | $5.00


o   TEST FEE | $5.00

o   Solar Design Install Maintenance Helper(A) – 150 hours – 12W | $382.50






o   Solar Design Install Maintenance Technician(B) – 260 of 450 hours – 12    $663.00

o   ELECTRICITY ONE 9781111646691 | $75.40

o   TOOLS (List to be provided in class (appx. $300)

o   NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE BOOK 2011 (optional) | $96.50

o   FEDERAL REGULATIONS OSHA 1926 (optional) | $62.50

o   Solar Design Install Maintenance Technician(B) – 190 of 450 hours | $484.50

o   NABCEP ENTRY-LEVEL EXAM (Highly Recommended) | $95.00

Case Study Interview

1. What inspired you to spearhead the effort to integrate solar content into your courses, curriculum, or programs?

I was teaching CAD at Erwin Technical Center since 2006. Starting in 2009, I joined a group of engineers designing and permitting solar projects bringing in my Architectural and CAD background while teaching. After the recession 2009/2010 our enrollment in drafting dropped to levels that did not justify 3 teaching positions. I suggested starting a PV installer program per FL Department of Education curriculum frameworks at Erwin. The program was funded and first enrollment began 10/2010

2. What major obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

A. Developing Course Content. I found it difficult to find ready to go appropriate activities and assignments. I am pretty much developing most of the content myself following FL Department of Education and NABCEP learning objectives. It’s an ongoing effort.


B. Purchasing with the School District is a major obstacle. Solar Vendors are not approved vendors with the School District of Hillsborough County.  I am still working around this while building a supply network.


C. Administrators are very risk averse; actually having students work on high level roofs is not recommended (wanted).


D. The schools location and situation has limitations to implement outdoor mobile or semi-permanent solar installations.

3. What were the keys to successfully achieving solar content integration (e.g., support of a person or persons; part of a planned curriculum improvement project; recommendations from industry or an advisory board; etc.)?

A. Having the support of Harold Wilson, Electricity teacher, is essential to this program.

B. Having worked with or for different contractors and engineers involved in this industry is very helpful in planning field visits or guest speakers, getting answers to questions.

4. How long did the process take from initial concept presentation or proposal to implementation?

About 6 month, not enough at all.

5. Was this primarily a one-person effort, or did you have one or more partners who shared a significant portion of the workload?

I feel like this was for the most part a one man show. The school administration helped with laying out the curriculum.

6. What products or services from your Regional Training Provider (RTP) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) were most useful to you in achieving solar content integration at your institution?

Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) training was helpful, as well the FSEC workshop handbook.

Jim Dunlop PV textbook and instructor resource guide and cd.
Solar Electric Handbook, Solar Power International

7. Are there other products or services that you would suggest for the RTPs and/or the SITN to offer that would be helpful in the process of implementing solar content integration?

Solar MOOC webinars (

I think 10 OSHA Course is adding value to the course.

8. Would you be willing to share course proposals, curriculum improvement proposals, and/or curriculum outlines for the courses, curriculum, and programs that you used as part of the solar content integration process?

Yes. Would have to make sure that there are no copyright violations.

9. If yes, would you agree to have these materials available on the IREC web site (with links from the RTP web sites)?

I do.

10. Would you be willing to be listed as a contact person on the IREC web site to share your solar content integration experience with other interested parties?



11. Would you be willing and able to specify all occupations for which the training that you offer applies (e.g., this program trains students for these occupations/jobs)?

Officially, this program trains students to be: Solar Photovoltaic System Design, Installation and Maintenance – Entry Level

12. Was specific funding appropriated for solar content integration into related course, curriculum, and/or program development?

Yes, funding for a new program was set aside by the district. Most of it is used for purchasing, some of it for training.

We did not receive any grants or special appropriations.  The school district and Erwin Technical Center itself decided what major purchases to make for the new program and spent what they thought they thought they could out of those two funds.  I really did all the work – putting together your prioritized “wish list” and orders, and then administrators decided how many of the items we could afford.

13. If special funding was available, would you be willing to share the amount of funding on the IREC web site?

Not applicable.  It was a school district decision to offer the new program and to come up with the funds to get it off the ground.

Course Listings


Solar Photovoltaic Design Installation and Maintenance Helper (EEV0205) | 150 hours
A1 – Information Technology & Communication | 30 hours
A2 – Mathematics Knowledge & Skills |30 hours
A3 – Employability Skills | 20 hours
A4 – Entrepreneurship Skills | 20 hours
A5 – PV Markets & Applications | 25 hours
A6 – Safety Basic | 25 hours

Solar Photovoltaic Design, Installation and Maintenance Technician (EEV0206) | 450 hours
B1 – Electricity Basics | 50 hours
B2 – Solar Energy Fundamentals | 50 hours
B3 – PV Module Fundamentals | 50 hours
B4 – System Components | 75 hours
B5 – PV System Sizing Principles | 50 hours
B6 – PV System Electrical Design | 75 hours
B7 – PV System Mechanical Design | 50 hours
B8 – Performance Analysis, Maintenance and Troubleshooting | 50 hours

7 months (600 clock hours) The Solar Photovoltaic program begins every 7 months. Classes meet Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm.


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